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[whitespace] By Michelle Goldberg and
Richard von Busack

The Exes
By Pagan Kennedy
Simon and Schuster, 203pp, $23
Pagan Kennedy has made a career out of encapsulating ironic/alternative culture and selling it back to people who don't know any better, hence her books Platforms: A Microwaved Cultural Chronicle of the 1970s, 'Zine and Pagan Kennedy's Living. That said, she's also far less annoying than her contemporaries, the Douglases Rushkoff and Coupland. Her breezy, entertaining new novelette, The Exes, follows the adventures of a supposedly cool indie band as it make its way through Boston's club scene. The band's gimmick is that the four members are each the ex-boyfriend or -girlfriend of someone else in the group. The book is divided into four sections, each told from the perspective of one of the characters: Hank, the self-important scenester; his ex-girlfriend, Lilly; the screwed-up drama queen Shaz, the talented bisexual girl bass player; and Shaz's ex-boyfriend, Walt, the grad-school dropout recovering from a nervous breakdown. With the exception of Hank, all the characters are quite likable, and though Kennedy is a bit too impressed with her hipster milieu, there are worse ways to kill a couple hours. (MG)

Raw Deal
By Ken Smith
Blast Books, 288 pp, $12.95
"Horrible and ironic stories of forgotten Americans" is the subtitle of Raw Deal. This pop history book, containing 22 biographical essays, is a book of deceits to put on the shelf next to William Bennett's book of virtues. Here are tales of hard work crowned with failure, of honesty and self-sacrifice overcome by amazing weaselry. Geniuses, inventors and musicians are destroyed by larcenous lawyers and the gutter press; high-minded doctors torture their patients, and whistle-blowers get bumped off. Retelling the sad stories of Karen Silkwood, Wilhelm Reich, Johann Sutter, Black Kettle and Charles Goodyear--among many other abused souls--Smith shows that the pessimists have excellent historical reasons for their dread of mankind. (RvB)

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From the July 13-26, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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